Senators at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft: Seven Players of Interest at Pick Number Seven
The 60th NHL Entry Draft is set for Thursday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal. And for the 4th time in 5 years, by virtue of their fifth straight absence from the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators have a top 10 pick. Barring a trade, the Sens will choose 7th overall so they’ll have the right to select one of the best seven amateur hockey players on the planet.
The trouble is, no one knows exactly who they are right now.
Everyone has their rankings, of course – fuelled by NHL central scouting and media insiders, or watching games and YouTube highlights. But no one truly knows if an 18 year old hockey player will turn out to be an NHL star someday. This isn’t a video game, where the best players have ratings between 90-95 and the computer ensures they absolutely live up to that.
In real life, history will show that all 32 NHL teams will make all kinds of mistakes at this week’s draft. All of them. They’ll all select at least one player, probably more, who’s not as good as a player who’s taken later in the draft.
As if it weren’t already hard enough for a team to accurately evaluate teenagers for what they are right now, these kids will all be different players and people in five years. To varying degrees, and for various reasons, some will be better and some will be worse. And that’s even tougher to assess.
So, when fans and media praise or criticize draft day selections, or when they make predictions on what the Senators might do at 7th overall, it borders on the ridiculous. It makes for fun debate and plenty of clicks, of course. But even the Sens don’t know who they’re taking until draft night. Sure, they have a perfectly ranked list of the seven eligible players they most desire, but they have no idea what the six teams will do.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie, now in semi-retirement, has been around for 5000 NHL Drafts (give or take). He figured out a long time ago the best way to preview a draft and what might happen is to survey NHL scouts, the ones actually participating in the draft. McKenzie’s list isn’t an attempt to predict what he personally thinks should happen based on his limited views of players.
We’ll use the same game plan here and merely provide a quick preview and highlights of the seven draft prospects that McKenzie has ranked 4th through 10th. Based on his poll, these are the prospects most closely orbiting around the seventh overall selection.
Simon Nemec: The elusive right shot defenceman. Nemec suited up for Slovakia at the last two World Juniors and at the Olympics. He’s 6 feet tall and almost 200 pounds. A smart two-way player with good wheels and puck skill but not overly physical.
Cutter Gauthier: Gauthier’s move from the wing to centre looked good on him this season with the American U-18 team. He just looks like a player. At 6′ 3” 200 pounds, with good speed, he looks physicallly ready to jump right into the NHL. In 22 games this season, Gauthier had 19 goals and 28 points.
David Jiricek: A right shot defenceman from Czechia. He’s 6 foot 3, 190 pounds and has been playing in the elite Czech league the past two years. He’s one of the bigger D in the draft. A good skater for his size and very good with the puck. His stock fell a little after a knee injury at the World Juniors but this video seems to indicate a return to form.
David Jiříček #45 is back in form and I think he's even better than before despite the long break. These are just a few clips from yesterday's game against Finland. His involvement in the offensive zone is getting way more aggressive…he's a huge offensive weapon. #2022NHLDraftpic.twitter.com/v2lEXtUkHj
Joakim Kemell: Kemell is an offensive winger with great hands and fantastic shot. He’s not very big at 5 foot 10, but streamlined nicely into the top Finnish league this season with 15 goals in 39 games.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki: Another smaller, skilled winger, he dominated the U-18 World Championship with 15 points in 6 games for Sweden.
Got 26 games in with Sweden’s top men’s league, scoring 7 times.
Matt Savoie: Continuing with the run of small, offensively-gifted forwards, Savoie is a 5 foot 9 centre from Alberta and a phenomenal skater. While he’s not tall, he doesn’t ever seem to get knocked around that much, and just seems to have that low center of gravity. The only Canadian on this list, Savoie had 90 points in 65 games this year with Winnipeg in the Western Hockey League.
Marco Kasper: A 6-foot-1, 183 pounder from Austria. Kasper can play any forward position. He joined Sweden’s top pro league full time this year and had 11 points in 46 games for Rogle.
Barring a trade, the Senators will have high interest in all these players on Thursday night. Personally, I’m a fan of Gauthier and Savoie and we’ll leave it at that. Best to leave the predictions to the fortune tellers.